My mother told me that she participated in a staff training event* last week that required homework of the attendees: completion of a hand-out that seemed, to me at least, more a fun distraction or an Internet meme than a training activity with substance. One of the questions stumped her for several days.
“Quick,” she said to me, “what song am I?”
“What do you mean what song?”
“What’s a song that sums up my life?”
For some strange reason the first two songs that came to mind were Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” and Alice Cooper’s “Only Women Bleed.”
I know! What the hell is wrong with me? I did fall down a long, hard flight of stairs when I was two, but come on. Gross! Sometimes I want to give my brain a time-out in the corner.
My Dad suggested a Kinky Friedman song, because I know when I think of my sweet Catholic mother, the first thing that comes to mind is a crass Jewish comedian from Texas.
In the end, she went with “Ode to Joy” and “Highway to Hell.”
Another question on the list was, What is one of your negative traits? (Or something like that. I’m sure I got the question wrong and will be informed of my error after she reads this.)
She wrote, “I’m indecisive. Well, not all the time. Just sometimes.”
*My Mom has worked in a medium-security men’s prison since I was a baby, so…. since before cassette tapes. Despite having dealt with criminals on a daily basis for many decades, she still maintains a sunny attitude, and is one of the friendliest, most positive, generous, and compassionate people you’d ever met. I based a character in Mandatory Release on her. Here’s one of my Mom’s actual quotes that ended up in the book—a follow-up to a statement on how awful it can be to work in a prison: “Oh, I’m not talking about the inmates! I’m talking about the staff.”